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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

First World Problems: Ovations

Spring training is winding down, and most important decisions have been made. One more critical set remains: who should get the loudest ovations at the home opener?

My thinking on this is some combination of the following:

A. Star player / fan favorite. If the team had finished in last place in 2018, these are the players who would get the loudest ovation anyway.

B. Playoff heroics. These players rose to the occasion in October, and this is the first time the fans can show their appreciation on the home field.

C. Has heart / wants to be here. This is different from A. because it’s not necessarily backed up by results. Newly-signed free agents, players who “left it all out on the field” for the team, and anyone else who has expressed appreciation for the team, its fans, or the city, would all qualify on this one.

Even though we don’t really know for sure who will be at the ring ceremony in a few weeks, nor what kind of exploits will happen on the opening road trip to change fans’ feelings, we can start naming names and breaking them into different tiers. Within each tier the players would receive roughly the same applause. (Note: I’m leaving out players like Joe Kelly who are under contract with other teams, and unlikely to be in attendance.)

Dustin Pedroia
Mookie Betts
Chris Sale
JD Martinez
David Price

Pedroia’s interesting, in that I think there’s a decent chance he comes off the DIL specifically for the home opener. If not for that I think he might be at the bottom of this tier. Mookie otherwise would be the top of the tier. Sale closing out the Series, plus his dugout tirade sparking the comeback in Game 4, will keep him higher than the others. I was tempted to list Price next given his postseason redemption and desire to have the ball throughout, but astute fans know JDM’s coaching has helped the offense of Mookie and others.

Alex Cora
Steve Pearce
Nathan Eovaldi
Craig Kimbrel (if they sign him, or if he remains unsigned)
Eduardo Rodriguez

Were this 2004, Cora might be at the top of the whole damn list. He’ll lead the second tier here. Pearce being Series MVP, and being the local boy, will do a lot for him. Eovaldi is the wild card here, as his postseason performance could elevate him into the top tier. If Kimbrel attends the fans will show him a massive amount of appreciation.

The controversial pick here is Rodriguez, as I think in any other circumstance he’d be one or two tiers lower. But you know what? Every single time his name is mentioned for the past few months my mind instantly goes to him throwing his glove to the ground in anger after Puig’s home run. Every. Single. Time. After Game 3 they desperately needed a good start, and he threw 5 shutout innings on 80 pitches. Arguably he should have been out of the 6th inning unscathed, on a bases-loaded DP. And arguably anyone could have given up a HR to Puig. And ultimately it didn’t matter because they came back to win. But that moment after Puig connected… That stuck with me. And it stuck as a positive. On some level, I want to see that passion. I want to see him pissed, in that moment. I think that’s going to stick with the other fans, and Rodriguez will get an ovation that exceeds his accomplishments.

Eduardo Nunez
Xander Bogaerts
Jackie Bradley, Jr.
Andrew Benintendi
Rick Porcello

Some people donate their bodies to science. Nunez gave his to baseball last October. He seemed to reinjure himself on every play, but that was a product of putting himself into harm’s way to make plays. That will elevate him to the group of fan favorites - Bogaerts, Bradley, Benintendi - who certainly had some playoff moments. Porcello will get shafted by being on this level. IMO he came up pretty big in October, but there are so many players who came up big or bigger. He’s kind of the forgotten man here - except for anyone else I might have forgotten.

Rafael Devers
Brock Holt

Devers will get lauded not for October, nor for any part of 2018, but rather for his approach to 2019. Holt had one great game against the Yankees when everyone else on the team had a great game against the Yankees, and is well-liked.

Mitch Moreland
Ryan Brasier
Christian Vazquez
Matt Barnes

It’s an achievement for Brasier to be listed here. The others are recognizable names who have had their moments.

Blake Swihart
Sandy Leon
Dana Levangie
Edward “Pookie” Jackson

Swihart hasn’t really “had his moment” but fans definitely appreciate him. Leon had a poor year, and I think his stock has fallen enough that he’s in a tier below Vazquez on the applause-o-meter. Levangie is the only non-Cora coach who fans likely appreciate, and has gotten a lot of great press in the past year for his work with the pitchers. Pookie Jackson always gets a big hand just because his name is Pookie. But that’s where we are in the list now.

Heath Hembree
Brandon Workman
Hector Velazquez
Brian Johnson
“Tyler Thornburg”

They are people, and worthy of our respect.

Steven Wright
other coaches & players

A PED violation and a spousal abuse suspension isn’t a great combination, and I suspect fans have tired of him. The rest of the people will get smatterings of applause while fans talk among themselves about whether they knew any of these people were part of the team at all. Maybe Tzu-Wei Lin might get more applause? Sam Travis? Brandon Phillips, if he shows? I mean, at this point this is the group where I’d ask “Is it worth my time to write it, or your time to read it?”

(Maybe I should have asked that question at the start of the thread.)

OK, Therapudlians. Tell me who I forgot, or what I got wrong.

villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2019 at 03:00 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: March 19, 2019 at 07:29 PM (#5823892)
Pookie by virtue of his name probably moves a group higher. People like yelling his name. I completely agree with you on EdRod, I think that moment resonated with a lot of people.

My two other disagreements are with Kimbrel and Moreland. I think Mitch is a bit better liked. I suspect his lack of complaining as he effectively lost his job (partially due to injury) is seen by the fans as a real plus and “team player” attitude. As for Kimbrel I think a lot of people are content to see him go away and he was pretty bad in the postseason. I don’t think he gets much of an ovation.
   2. villageidiom Posted: March 19, 2019 at 10:31 PM (#5823917)
As for Kimbrel I think a lot of people are content to see him go away and he was pretty bad in the postseason. I don’t think he gets much of an ovation.
If he's still a free agent, and he shows up to get a ring, I think that alone will get him a loud ovation. It's not exactly Derek Lowe in 2005, but something considerably higher than Curtis Leskanic.
   3. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: March 19, 2019 at 11:02 PM (#5823919)
My gut reaction is that Bogaerts and especially JBJ are too low, and should be swapped with Kimbrel and EdRod.
   4. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 20, 2019 at 02:31 AM (#5823927)
Well, 'gut' is pretty much all we're talking about, right?

Too low:
Arguably Benintendi - just that one catch.
Steve Pearce, though I hate to admit it. He didn't deserve the MVP, but he won it, and he played great, and people are going to just eat this up.

Too high:
Eduardo Rodriguez
“Tyler Thornburg”
Xander Bogaerts - he's my favorite, but he just had an absolutely invisible postseason.
Kimbrel - I agree with Jose. Although I also agree with vi - if he's unsigned and shows up we're all going to go deaf.
   5. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 20, 2019 at 03:08 AM (#5823929)
And what about Kinsler?
   6. villageidiom Posted: March 20, 2019 at 09:19 AM (#5823951)
And what about Kinsler?
Signed by the Padres. He likely won't be there.

Xander Bogaerts - he's my favorite, but he just had an absolutely invisible postseason.
That's where I was on it. The ovation at the home opener, with the ring ceremony, is going to be more about what they did in October than whether they're a fan favorite. The latter will absolutely be a factor, but it's not the deciding factor. Like, Bogaerts is by far a bigger fan favorite than Pearce, but Pearce will get the bigger ovation at the ceremony.
   7. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 20, 2019 at 02:40 PM (#5824064)
Yeah. By an order of magnitude.

Sorry for the dumb Kinsler question. Brain fart brought on by thinking about Kimbrel, maybe?

What's wild is how few guys aren't back on the team. Kimbrel, Kelly, Kinsler, Phillips, Pomeranz, Wright of course... that's IT.

Hey, is Hanley gonna get a ring?
   8. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: March 20, 2019 at 06:45 PM (#5824142)
I assume Hanley gets a ring. The Sox have generally given rings to everyone who suited up. I see no reason for Hanley not to get one. He’ll i assume Tony Renda will get one.
   9. jmurph Posted: March 22, 2019 at 12:34 PM (#5824598)
Twitter says Sox and Sale closing in on an extension.

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